Maintaining Team Morale This Summer

July 1, 2021

The last year and a half have been packed with events that no one could have predicted. The pandemic wasn’t entirely bad for lawn care businesses – many people working from home found themselves spending a lot of time looking at and thinking about their lawns and decided that caring for their yards was a priority even as the big picture kept evolving.

Now everyone who’s been stuck inside is ready to spend, and it’s hard to know what that means for our industry. Will your customer base stay at its pandemic level or grow? If they’ve stuck with lawn care through lockdowns, will they be spending more on things they couldn’t access during those times?

All this uncertainty can be tough on lawn care professionals. While you’re thinking of ways to steer your company through challenges and uncertainties, it’s important to remember that your employees are experiencing a lot of the same emotions. Before Teddy Mathis, Graham’s national sales director, joined our team, he owned his own lawn care company. This month he shares some insights from his years in the industry about supporting your team and making sure they feel valued as we head into a busy and uncertain summer.

Respect and Rewards

“People are motivated by two big things: recognition and money. Those two incentives run the world. If our team finished work early or under budget, I would definitely share whatever the financial gain was with my staff. If one of my guys went above and beyond, I made sure the whole company knew about it.”

Create a Positive Environment

“We had a meeting every Monday morning where I’d try to check in with all my guys, asking ‘How was your weekend?’, ‘How is your family?”. We’d organize events around the Fourth of July that everyone could bring their families to. I’d say I was 70% leader, 30% counselor. I always wanted to know how my guys were doing, not just as a business thing, but as a human thing. We had to spend a lot of time together, and you want your co-workers to be feeling good about their jobs and their lives.”

Encourage Work/Life Balance to Prevent Burnout:

“We would have a full-staff cookout at the beginning of every year. It was a social event, but it was also a chance to talk about the year ahead. I wanted to remind everyone that our industry is seasonal. You spend a lot of time outside in the heat, and there are times when you might put in eight hours today and 14 tomorrow. When the busy season was about to start we’d always have a party with spouses and families. We wanted people to know what was expected of them, but we also wanted to communicate that we appreciate their hard work.”

“You reach a point of diminishing returns. When you’re busy, you start thinking that you need to work all the time, but that’s counterproductive in the long run. You and your employees need to rest. I’d encourage the team to have date nights with their spouses. I never worked on Sundays because success wasn’t worth that sacrifice to me.”

Treat Your Employees Like They’re Important

“Your employees are your partners. Most owners would say that customers are the most important group for a business. I think that two groups are equally important: your customers and your employees. You might say your customers come first, but without your employees you wouldn’t have any customers.”

This final thought from Teddy sums up his thinking: “The better you take care of your employees, the better they’ll take care of your customers.”